Hapi Mutesi is a School Administrator for the Amahoro Community School, a Mentor at the Amahoro Children’s Home, a second-year law school student, and a human rights advocate by profession. This is her story.
Hapi was the sixth child born into a family of eight. She was only a baby when her family moved from their home in Rwanda to escape the genocide, and so she grew up in in the neighboring country of Uganda. When her parents resettled in Rwanda they left Hapi and her siblings in Uganda because they would have access to better education there.
It was years later when Hapi went to University that she was first introduced to Amahoro. Hapi attended the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda and while there she went to a children’s conference where Caleb Rukundo was a guest speaker. Inspired by the mission, Hapi started an internship with Amahoro Community Development Initiative, which was a great fit because of her passion for mentoring children and mentoring young women in particular.
The experience of doing internship with Amahoro gave Hapi a deep appreciation of life and a need to serve the vulnerable people. Upon graduating from Makerere University with a Bachelors’ Degree in Ethics and Human Rights, she felt it was important to use the knowledge she acquired to help Amahoro.
Hapi continues to work to promote and protect children’s rights through rescuing, mentoring, resettling, and often reuniting children with their parents. Through this work with Amahoro, Hapi became part of the children’s lives and the children are part of her now too.
Hapi is in her second year of law school, working toward her life goal is to become a human rights lawyer and advocate for all the rights of vulnerable children in Uganda. While in school Hapi still provides administrative support to Amahoro Community Schools and continues to be a mentor for a number of children at Amahoro Children’s Home for orphaned and abandoned children. Her ultimate dream? To see all of the children she has mentored at Amahoro, especially the girls, become very important persons in future.
At Amahoro, we stand by the principle that “They are all our children” and Hapi’s dedication vulnerable people exemplifies that statement.
Tell us about the medical clinic that you’ve been running in Uganda. Chris – A local pastor, David Rapp, was taking groups of teenagers from Southern Oregon from all walks of life on mission trips to East Africa. Our two children, Lauren and Austin, went on the trip with Pastor Dave in 2011. They returned frustrated by how little they could do to address the poverty they saw on their mission trip. Our kids knew that if Lorie and I could go to Uganda we could address some of the medical needs. So, they convinced us to take a family vacation to East Africa to go on a safari. And…. we would stop by the children’s home they served on their mission to conduct a one-day medical clinic with the children. We had no intention of starting medical clinics or building a school or anything in Uganda. We went to Uganda and fell in love with the people and the opportunity to help. I think all of us want to serve. All of us want to change the world and make it better.
After a few more trips, we formed the Amahoro Children’s Community Team (ACCT) as a nonprofit to help us accomplish our service mission. The ACCT has graduated from doing spontaneous medical clinics outside under the shade of a tree to doing clinics in churches with partitioned exam rooms. These clinics have a pharmacy, a lab, an eye examination area and even radiology. So, now we have a full-service clinic.
How many years have you been doing clinics and how to you staff them? Lorie – Chris and I went on our first trip in 2013. Initially our clinics were staffed by American doctors, nurses, and some volunteers that went with us. We met a Ugandan doctor, Dr. Franklin, and once we started working with him, we would combine our nurses, doctors, and volunteers with his Ugandan doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and lab techs. That way the ACCT is able to see 400 to 500 people a day at our clinic.
What is at the core of your work? Lorie – The ACCT is a service organization. Many people, when they are first involved think, “Oh, this is great. You’re teaching the Ugandans all these things. You’re teaching them about God.” Actually, the Ugandans already have a deep understanding about God. Their church services are incredibly emotional and uplifting. When we first started our service trips, we were giving something to the people of Uganda. Then we shifted to doing things for the people, like planting mango trees. More recently we’re working with people, holding clinics by partnering with Ugandan medical professionals. The key to success is to really work with people.
How did two doctors get involved with a school for orphaned children? Chris – We didn’t do it alone. We partnered with people in the U.S. and Uganda to make it possible. I’m a doctor and as a doctor, that’s kind of all I know. One of the keys to be a successful doctor, and maybe a key to being successful at anything, is knowing your strengths and your limitations. We did not intend to build a school. A director of children’s homes in Uganda, Caleb Rukundo, came to us and asked the ACCT to help them finish building a primary school. A group from Minnesota had given Caleb’s children’s home $50,000 to acquire property. They purchased the land and put up walls but didn’t have enough money to finish a roof over the school. We shared that need with people in Southern Oregon, raised money, and the school was finished in about five months.
What age groups does the school serve? Chris – Kindergarten through seventh grade. There are about 300 kids at the school. These young people might not be going to school otherwise, since Uganda does not have free public school. The ACCT is raising money to help keep orphaned and abandoned kids fed and housed and to help them go to school. Having this school makes everything more sustainable. Kids from the children’s homes and kids who live with their families in the village can attend the school, but only the orphaned and abandoned children attend for free. This way, the school brings in enough money to sustain the orphans’ homes. This model was developed by Caleb Rukundo the Ugandan director of children’s homes. He grew up homeless and has a gigantic heart for these kids. We are so thankful to local groups that gave seed money to start the school.
Now, we’re working on bringing electricity to the school. Electricity in the school will allow us to get computers. Unfortunately, this project has been stalled. There’s been a locust infestation this year in East Africa and now with the coronavirus pandemic we, may need to raise money for food rather than electricity.
Why have you determined that women’s health should be a focus? Lorie – We initially focused on children in orphan homes. Many have been abandoned when they were babies. We started to think more about how we could intervene early and prevent these kids from becoming street kids and to help build a healthy family for them. Chris – We have to allow women to have healthy pregnancies and healthy deliveries. We have to allow women to have their own reproductive choices. We can’t continue to say, “You need to lift yourself out of poverty, but you have to have 12 kids.” It doesn’t work.
Doctor Franklin seems to be a key figure in making this all happen. Tell us about him. Chris – Some people say, “God doesn’t have accidents, things happen for a reason.” When we complete our service, we finish with a brief safari. Dr. Franklin happened to be our safari guide. “You guys are medical?” and we said, “Yeah.” Then he said, “Yeah, I’m a doctor too”. At first, we didn’t know whether to believe him, but Franklin is not only a doctor, but an outstanding doctor, very well trained. He could make more money as a safari guide than as a doctor in Uganda. He’s the one with the vision and the connections. His dad was Minister of Education under Idi Amin. Dr. Franklin is very savvy, he understands the politics of education, the politics of healthcare, and the politics of transforming a country. Dr. Franklin had a vision for how to make the medical clinic self-sustaining. Our medical clinic charges those who have the financial wherewithal and provides free care to the others. Both Dr. Franklin and Caleb Rukundo, with the children’s home, are extraordinary leaders. They are working to make Uganda a better place.
What’s your inspiration? Chris – I think we all want to make Jackson County, Oregon, the United States, or the world, a better place. When it comes down to it, when we leave this world, that’s what we’d like to leave. That is the inspiration. Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation is inspiration. Father Gregory Boyle is inspiration. Father Boyle spoke in Ashland a year ago about his work to make the world a better place. I knew he was on the right track and was inspired by him.
What do participants say about how the trip has impacted them? Lorie – It changes lives. People say, “Wow, that really opened my eyes to what is really going on”.
Chris – I promise everybody, when they go that it will change their life. They all look at me like, “Uh-huh,” and I say, “Profoundly change your life. You will not be the same person.” One of my patients said, “I never understood when I came to your office, you had pictures of Ugandan people on the wall. Now I have pictures of Ugandan people on my walls.” When you see suffering, when you see humanity, when you see need; it forces you to be more generous, more compassionate, and more focused.
What do you see in the next 10 years for your Ugandan mission? Lorie – There is a lot of interest in family planning. A lot of women in Uganda spend their whole adult life pregnant or breastfeeding. Their children, because they’re so close together, don’t get a healthy start. The mortality for children under age five is really, really high. And maternal mortality is really high too.
We’re hoping to raise money to build a permanent clinic, a physical structure where we can provide medical equipment for young families who can’t afford care. We help local physicians provide medical services to neighboring communities. We’ve also been working to get an ambulance.
Is Uganda going to be a permanent part of your lives?
Lorie – I think so, a forever part.
Shifting to Southern Oregon, how have you seen medical care in the Rogue Valley change?
Chris – We’ve practiced medicine in Southern Oregon for almost 31 years. Medicine has changed a lot in the Rogue Valley, but a lot has stayed the same. We still have some social inequity. We still have people who don’t have healthcare. The Oregon Health Plan has done a lot to fix that, but some people don’t know how to navigate the system to get coverage. We still have people in the Valley who are hungry. The Valley is richer and more prosperous than I’ve ever seen, yet we still have people with very little. We have a long way to go, equity-wise, even in Southern Oregon.
What do you like about living in Southern Oregon? Lorie – I like the people here. I like the size of the community. I find going to a big city; San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, fun and exciting for a couple of days, and then, I can’t wait to get back to the Rogue Valley. Chris – We are at an interface of urban and rural. We can jump on a plane and be in a city in 45 minutes. Yet we can be in the mountains at a lake or a stream in 45 minutes or less. What I like about Southern Oregon is our ability to be with nature, our ability to have a nice space between ourselves and our friends without feeling stacked on top of each other. I think we have a prosperous community, so most people feel there’s hope and there are jobs. There’s a lot to like about Southern Oregon.
If you could wave your magic stethoscope, what would you like to improve in Southern Oregon? Chris – I would like to see Asante and Providence Hospitals work together better: to share specialties, to share beds in the hospital, to share testing. We’re duplicating a lot right now. It would save the Valley an enormous amount of money. We’ve made inroads from time to time only to have step-backs.
Is there a message that is important to share? Chris – I think people underestimate the value of service. Father Gregory Boyle said every time he helps people, he has feelings of guilt, because they’re helping him more than he could possibly help them. When you really give of your heart, it comes back 10 times what you give. You don’t have to get involved with our mission in Uganda but, get involved in something. Make the world a better place. Help others and it’ll lift you up higher than you’ve been lifted before.
Traditional educational systems around the world have adapted since the spread of COVID-19 began in 2019, and in Uganda things are no different. February usually marks the beginning of a new term for all students in Uganda, but due to necessary COVID-19 precautions only the primary seven grade level kids are currently attending in person classes at the Amahoro Community School. Primary seven is the last level of primary school; they can continue to secondary school once they are able to pass all of their exams.
Most all students who are not studying for these essential exams have stayed home since March of last year. For the children living at the Amahoro Children’s Home, they have been able to continue to learn due in a few different ways due to their proximity to the Amahoro Community School. At this point the government has said that the primary six class can resume school on March 1st, 2021, and we are looking forward to getting more children back to school safely.
Uganda has developed guidelines, known as standard operating procedures (SOPS) for schools in response to COVID-19, including
– everyone is required to wear a mask
– social distancing is practiced
– hands are washed regularly
– temperatures of students and teachers are taken each morning and evening
In order for any school to operate in Uganda, they must now prove to the Ministry of Education that they are following all the SOPS. Only then can a certificate of operation be issued. The Amahoro Community School has been following these SOPS and in addition they have been educating students, teachers, and the neighboring community about COVID-19 and how to stay safe.
Like many places around the world, many people in the community of Matugga (the area surrounding the school) have lost jobs due to COVID-19. People from the community of Matugga continue to ask for support from the Amahoro Children’s Home to meet everyday needs and Amahoro has been a beacon of light for the community. In addition to supporting vulnerable children we are committed to strengthening communities as well.
Our friends in Uganda have had to make many changes in the past year. While it has not been easy for anybody, it is reassuring that our friends at Amahoro are continuing to support their surrounding community, educate others on how to stay safe and prepare the primary seven class to start secondary school.
Yours in Education, Lindsey S. H. Morgan The College of William & Mary, ’17 W&M School of Education, MAEd, ’18
For the past ten years, a group of dedicated volunteers with the Amahoro Children & Community Team have worked tirelessly with Dr. Franklin Muwanguzi and Caleb Rukundo to help Ugandans battle poverty. Amahoro provides medical services and educational resources to vulnerable youth and has made tremendous strides. But our work is never done, and we continue to raise funds, take an active role in Uganda, and inspire volunteers to go to Uganda to help in the clinics and orphanages. Drs. Chris and Lorie Morgan introduced Mike and me to the Amahoro mission a few years ago. We were in awe and inspired by all the hard work and progress made in Uganda. We were hooked and overjoyed to have joined this amazing team.
There are many challenges around the world, and no one is immune to disaster. September 2020, a devastating fire ravaged Southern Oregon, in particular, Phoenix and Talent Oregon. Our community members lost 2,600 homes and multiple businesses. Many of us in Southern Oregon have worked diligently to raise funds, help find housing, coordinate relief supplies, meals, and food. Our business, along with employees, friends & family, are proud to have donated over $100,000 in an Emergency Relief Fund for those impacted by the fire across the valley. Still, our work is far from over here, and we continue to help our fellow community members stricken by the disaster.
There is a common thread in these two situations. “Our work is never done,” whether it be at home or abroad. We’re fighting like hell for our community in Southern Oregon and fighting like hell for our community in Uganda. We have the capability of making a huge difference in human lives no matter where they live. Please join us in both efforts to support our brothers and sisters at home and abroad.
I am Stephen Onyadi and I am a professional chef in my last semester of a B.A in Hospitality Management at University of Nairobi, Kenya. I warmly want to thank Amahoro Community team who offered me this beautiful chance of sponsoring me for this degree course that has brought this big dream to reality. I love to share knowledge and my dream has always been to become a culinary educator.
What were you doing before you went to Chef school?
I grew up in a large family of 11 kids. I was raised by a mother who never attended any school and a father who never made it to secondary school. My parents did substance farming to try and earn money to pay for their children’s school. I worked to help pay for my education, including working for a priest as a house helper and this is when I realized I wanted to get a degree in hotel management. After a while the priest was not able to employ me anymore, so I unfortunately I then had to drop out of school.
When I found work again, I was able to go back to school and get closer to earning my diploma. Those were hard years where I often worked until 1am after a school day so I could keep earning the money to pay for my degree. I made it through a couple of years, but it was not sustainable.
Then I met Caleb and Peace from the Amahoro Children’s Home. Caleb and Peace employed me to be cook for the ACCT when they traveled to the Entebbe Guest House. I remember Dr. Chris was jolly and friendly and it made me want to share with him a little of my dream of going back to school so that could teach more youths in the future.
What has your sponsorship helped you accomplish?
The sponsorship I received from Amahoro has helped me achieve many things. I have trained over 500 professional chefs in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. I was elected general secretary for the East African Chef’s Association in 2019. I was also invited to develop education curriculum for non-formal education to support those who have dropped out of school in 2020. I am particularly proud of this curriculum, because these chefs remind me of my story.
I am also proud of the opportunities I have had to give back. I volunteer as a part time tutor with the YMCA, with Impact chefs and hospitality academy in Nairobi, and with the culinary school Uganda. When colleges closed due to COVID-19 I volunteered with Nile International Hospital. I opened up a kitchen for the hospital, developed a menu for patients and staff, and then recruited and trained staff who am so proud off.
I started a program with a local company in Uganda called Bringo to help minimize food waste. This program educates farmers on how to minimize waste during harvest and also it educates hotel chefs using every item left in one’s fridge before another purchase.
All the above opportunities have only come up because of this access to sponsorship for a degree I am accomplishing through the kind help from Amahoro Community team.
What do you want to do now?
This year I will complete my degree, but I am still working toward my life goals. My dream is to own a modern kitchen where I will be able to offer practical training classes to street kids and orphans who can’t afford further education but have attitude and ability to learn a hands-on skill. I will also help these students find internships in hotels to help ensure a successful career.
At this point in time, the Ugandan hospitality education sector is more of theory. People from Kenya are still running hotels and kitchens in Uganda, which is another reason I am excited to bring my expertise back to my country. I am proud to already be one of the most accomplished chefs in Uganda.
What are your favorite things to cook?
Now, I can cook 7 different cuisines. While most local chefs only know 2 cuisines, today I can brag of being able to cook French, continental, Indian, Italian and a couple of African cuisines. My signature dish is a Kenyan specialty called chicken and beef dialogue which you can see in the photo below
I cook a version of a dish the Americans who come to visit love to eat called Rolex, which involves wrapping a protein like meat or eggs in Chapatti, which is a flat bread.
Another dish I love to cook is Pork Ribs and Chapatti, which I will share with you now to help you remember Uganda.
RECIPE FOR PORK SPARE RIBS
Pork Ribs. 1kg
Soya sauce (dark) 1 tbsp.
Red Onions I hd ( roughly chopped)
Spring Onions 1 stk (roughly chopped)
Carrots 1 pc (roughly chopped)
Fresh Dhania 2 stalks
Salt 0.5 tsp
Water 2 ltrs
Barbeque sauce 500 gms for after margination.
Add all the above ingredients in a stock pot and bring to boil till the pork ribs become tender.
Strain off the ribs from the stock and leave it to cool for about 10 mins.
Put the ready ribs in a bowl and marinate the with the barbeque sauce.
Cover them up tight and keep in the chiller for over night.
Grill them on an average heat of 160c while applying the remains of the bbq sauce.
The ribs will be soft and tender falling of the born.
Serve this with steamed vegetables of ur choice and a chapatti.
Baking flour 0.5 kg
Eggs 1 pc
Milk 0.5 ltrs
Butter 20 gms
Red onion 1 finely grated
Carrots ½ finely grated.
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying.
Add milk (loop warm), egg, butter, grated onions, grated onions and salt in a bowl. Teste the salt to your level of intake.
Add baking flour and knead with hands. Making sure the dough is moderately soft to hard.
Allow the dough 10 mins rest and then measure 50 gms balls and roll them wide to around 7 inch.
Heat the pan on fire, spray the pan with vegetable frying oil. Add the 7-inch-wide dough to the pan. Fry each till ready adding frying little frying oil till golden brown.
NB. To maintain softness turn your chapatti from side to side and time to time.
I look forward to seeing the photos for both the recipes.
I am a proud mother of two daughters at the Amahoro Community School. When I heard about the opportunity to do vocational training at Amahoro, I knew my dreams had come true because I had lost hope in finding something to do in life. I never got a chance to go to school due to my parent’s financial inabilities and wanted to give me children a better opportunity.
Amahoro’s thoughtfulness is a gift I will always treasure. I wake up each day very early in the morning with my two beautiful daughters and we all go to school. The vocational school I attend is an empowerment to both men and women in our community and it helps all of us get out of poverty by acquiring skills to earn a living. My plan at the end of my vocational training is to get my own sewing machine and to support my children by keeping them in school because education is the greatest gift I can ever give to my children.
I thank Amahoro for helping us and supporting our children at the Amahoro Community Schools. I thank Amahoro for bringing for us school bags, scholastic materials, medical services, sanitary towels, toys, and education. We can never thank God enough for all Amahoro does for us.
Christine and Emilly are twins and they are the grandmothers at the Amahoro Children’s Home. They attend every medical clinic and year after year remain spritely octogenarians. This year, they wrote us a note of appreciation.
We appreciate Amahoro’s commitment to improving our lives, as old as we are. We initially thought the focus for Amahoro was only children, but we are grateful to be supported by Amahoro, and we get all the treatment we need from the Amahoro Children & Community Team every time they come to Uganda. Our grandchildren and all the people in the community have acquired free education, and employment is provided for many in our community: teachers, chefs, security personnel etc. The wonderful medical care we all get with Amahoro provides free medical services ranging from; dental clinics, general body check-ups, and vision tests, which we are always eager to receive each year.
We have been well taken care of by our community as old grandmothers of the village and we thank the Almighty God for bringing such kind of people in our lives to help us care for the entire community.
The simple acts of caring are Heroic-Thank you Amahoro.
I am a mother of two children and a senior teacher at Amahoro Community School. It’s been a blessing to work and be part of the Amahoro Family. Teaching and meeting children from different kinds of background has really changed my life – orphans, street children, vulnerable children, and those that had lost hope in life are now finding hope in school. Another reason I have been lucky to work with Amahoro is because my two children are assured of free education and they too have acquired more knowledge through meeting different kinds of people. I am proud that my employment as a teacher has enabled me support my family as well, since my husband and I pay the bills together now instead of leaving all my family bills to my husband alone. We as teachers of Amahoro Community School have been privileged to meet teachers with Amahoro from the United States where we share ideas on how to better the education of our children every year. Amahoro provides us with most of our scholastic needs and we pray that this never ends as we educate our children and touch tomorrow today.
I used to live with my mother and siblings in Kisenyi slums and my life was hard. I lost my father at a very tender age, my extended family estranged us, and my siblings and I had to work to survive. We were selling tomatoes, fetching water, and working for other families so we could afford to eat.
I tried going to school because I really wanted to help my mother and siblings live a better life. Unfortunately, there is no free public school in Uganda and my family could not pay the necessary fees, so I stopped attending school. Even as a young adult, the Kisenyi slums was not a good place for me to stay. Through the Kisenyi outreach program I was lucky to find a new family: the Amahoro Children’s Home.
When I reached Amahoro everyone was welcoming and caring, and they even asked what I dream career was. I told the Aunties that I wanted to be a fashion designer because my role model is Sylvia Owori, a Uganda fashion designer, businesswoman, political lobbyist, and entrepreneur. I hope to become so successful that I can help my mother, my siblings, and other people in need.
I am so grateful that I joined Amahoro Children’s Home because I am proud of who I am becoming. I am currently attending a tailoring training that is supported by Amahoro and I am on the path to becoming the fashion designer of my dreams. My mother can never thank God enough for Amahoro, for the support, love, and care they have given me. I can’t wait to be a qualified fashion Designer in Uganda. May God bless you today and always, Amahoro.
My name is Sandra I greatly thank God for bringing me to Amahoro Children’s Home for orphaned and abandoned youth. I came to the home when I was 7 years of age and I loved the experience because everyone was so welcoming.
As the years went by, I started my menstrual cycle and like any other girl I was worried about what this stage of my life would look like. After talking to one of my Aunties, I learned the beauty of menstruation. I also learned from women with the Amahoro Children & Community Team, who teamed up with Days for Girls to provide menstrual kits and lessons on how it is important our cycle is. One in ten girls in Africa miss school due to their menstrual cycle and girls in my country miss up to eight days each term. Unlike girls who lack pads and lack information on why girls menstruate, my experience has been a great one knowing that I am growing into a beautiful woman. With the support from Amahoro, we always have training on how to prepare for our special days. These training are accompanied by Days for Girls Kits are for each one of us with written instructions on how they are used. There is not a single day I have gotten worried about boys laughing at me or even anybody noticing that I am on my period.
Thank you Amahoro for making my special day’shappy days!